This week has been largely determined by the conversation I have had with Torn Halves about the Choose2Matter initiative.

It all started with me sharing a call for donations to support The Quest2Matter. Following the links above you can find a very interesting conversation on Facebook.

The socio-political debate that came out of the post has been very interesting, and I really enjoyed looking at the issue from another perspective. However, this is not what I really want to discuss here. Head over to the posts and we can continue the conversation about the concrete issue there.

In this posts I just wanted to have a quick look at my attitude to slacktivism and naivety. Two of the key aspects of the conversations.

Earlier this month UNICEF aimed at shocking the world out of slacktivim with their campaign “Likes don’t save lives“.

There’s been a lot of discussion about this and I am not at all convinced that I agree. Becoming aware of problems and possible solutions is one way of becoming more informed and being more informed leads you to decisions and actions about things you really care about. (Not to mention the legitimate criticism of how we practise charity these days.)

Our world is struggling with endless problems, millions of people are subjected to physical, financial, political oppression. There are thousands of charities and organisations that take on solving smaller or bigger chunks of the problem. Do these injustices suggest that there are major problems with the way things are? Absolutely. The more aware you are of these injustices the more likely it is that you would do something about them.
If you look at this infographic, slacktivism does not look all that bad.

My activism and activity is much influenced and informed by the things I “Like” and/or “Share”. I learn about problems, I find out about initiatives and I let others know that a) these are the things I care about, b) I think they might also care about them, c) here is an opportunity they might find useful.

Nothing is a 100 percent to my liking. Angela talk about us being “created” for example, which really bothers me but that’s not what her initiative is about.

Naivety is good

Naivety has been a life-long “fault” of mine. I suppose it is a reaction to having been brought up in a pessimistic and cynical environment, which has not proven to be an adequate solution to a happy life. (Whether a happy life is your pursuit, of course is a question, everyone has to answer for themselves.)

Naive idealism has helped me to see the best in people (and be thoroughly crushed time and again), it has helped me get up after horrible lessons I have had and dare go back to the classroom happy and optimistic.

Naivety leaves you open to surprises, new challenges and discoveries.

Naivety is not ignorance. Naivety is the openness and the belief that nothing is beyond you. If you really care and if you want to invest time, effort, energy and money you can master it, understand it achieve it. When I look at my life (which at the moment is better than ever before), I have got my naivety to thank for it. Naivety helps you accept people more openly and without suspicion.

Of course you get hurt because not everyone is nice or good (and you are not everyone’s cup of tea either). But that does not have to stop you from believing that people are out there to make this world a better place, and it’s not all a huge conspiracy by the 0.1% to subdue humanity and exploit them for their financial gains.  (I’m not dismissing what Krashen and Cody are talking about but neither do I subscribe to this vision of cynicism and pessimism.)

Naivety is not something that should be avoided. I wish more people were a bit more naive and a bit less blasé and negative. I have had more of my plans destroyed by people being negative than by people who embraced a crazy idea and went with it.

Last weekend I went for a run around Safa park for peace, there were fewer than fifty of us. Did we achieve world peace? No. Was it worth it? Of course it was.


Over to you: Are you a slacktivist? Are you naive?

Coming up: Post 4: My TeachMeet presentation about mentoring


This post is one day late in coming – yesterday my mind was buzzing after a very intense discussion on Facebook. It was very exciting and kept me thinking for the most part of today as well but I do want to go on with this small project of mine.

I have been meaning to write about podcats ever since I started this blog. This completely new form of entertainment has fascinated me since I downloaded my very first episode of the History of Rome podcast. (For a thoroughly enjoyable account of the fantastic history of the Rome, check out the iTunes Store or Mike’s blog and download the 179 episodes of this podcast.)

For a while I thought Mike’s effort was one of its own, but while Mike had a longish lull around the time of the fall of the republic, I had time to scavenge for more, and I was like a child in a candy store.

Podcasts have become part of my entertainment to at least the same extent as books, audiobooks, music and cooking.

What is it that makes podcasts so good?

1. They are highly personal – they are programmes recorded by people who are passionate about about something.

2. They are “chatty” – even the most serious topics become more palatable than an academic conversation in a radio studio or a chapter in a book.

3. There are hardly any topics you can’t find a good podcast about – A quick search will lend you a great selection of programmes, if you don’t like one, you might find another that’s closer to you. For example, I’ve been listening to my second Napoleon podcast. Although it is promising, it does not yet provide the same level of entertainment as Cameron Reilly’s Conversations with David Markham.

4. I love following the progress how the narrators find their way around a topic, communicate with their audience and create a unique experience.

5. I can revisit old flames without having to do all the research myself and listening to them as stories makes it just that much more exciting than leafing through a book.

6. Every good podcast comes with its own community of dedicated enthusiastic listeners. Beside the programme, you usually have a facebook page, a blog or a website where you can meet the creator of the podcast and have a conversation and push the topic further and further. Often it feels like sitting in a pub having a chat about your favourite topic with people who know at least as much as you. History podcasters have their own Facebook group, it’s well worth cheking it out.

This wordle quite clearly reveals the kinds of podcasts I listen to.


Yes, I love history. It’s an older love than English even. (I fell in love with my beautiful and incredibly clever History teacher who told us fantastic stories about people from old times, I was 10 and I was hooked for life.)

Here is a list of the history titles you can find on iTunes (which is a free software download from Apple, you have to create an account but you don’t have to pay for it and there is enough free content up there to keep you entertained for the rest of your life – and I haven’t even mentioned iTunesU!) Of course, this is not the only way to find podcasts but defintely the easiest I have found so far. Otherwise you can browse and subscribe to prodcasts at hosting sites like PodBean, Podomatic.

And of course the really exciting thing is that listening to these shows regularly gives you motivation to think about the stories you want to tell the world and maybe one day you will press that button and say. “Hello, this is me and this is my podcast, I hope you’ll like it.”

And of course you are not without help. The podcasting team on Electronic Village Online has been doing a fantastic job helping teachers sit down in front of a microphone and get podcasting. Check out the blog of their 2013 session here.

Here‘s an interesting article about podcasting.

Over to you: Do you listen to podcasts? Do you have any recommendations?


Coming up… Activism-slacktivism-naivity. On offshoot of the Facebook conversation I refered to earlier in this post

I’ll start this series of posts with writing about the 30-day challenges I am trying to complete in the next few months.

I’m sure many of you have seen this fascinating TED talk. (Of course, I’m immensely happy if this is your first time.) It has been sort of on my mind eversince I first saw it months and months ago and I suppose it has been secretly gnawing away at my obstinate refusal to try to do anything regular and stick to it.

I would never have thought to be able to something like this and I am still not sure I will keep up at least one of them. The preparation for the marathon (I wrote about it here) has put things into a somewhat different perspective though. Since I started training, I have done crazy things like getting up at 3 o’clock to be able to start off before the heat really sets in, or having a shower with the ablution hose at a public toilet because I had to do my run before I went to do a talk at a PD event.

(This image is is an illustration. Check out Sweetmaria’s Coffee Library – it’s one of the most interesting websites I have seen recently.)

I do like the idea of setting these challenges. They teach me a lot of things:
1. Enjoy success – the sense of achievement is intoxicating. When you realise that you can actually do something you would not have though possible.
2. Embrace failure – of course not everything works according to plan. Learning the lessons of these failures and finding new challenges is a great learning experience.
3. Have a different perspective of everything around me – everything is worth an attempt and there are so many things around you you haven’t done for one reason or another. Looking at things and turning them into small challenges helps understand them and my limitations and the intricacies behind them.
4. The beauty of the minute – I’m not thinking big things. I’m not going to climb Mount Everest or something. Things like, say one nice thing to or just simply smile at a stranger every day for 30 days sounds like an awesome challenge.
5. They are infectious – once you start doing this, you start having an impact on the people around you, they will start doing things differently, thinking about and approaching things in new ways.
6. These are all going to turn into stories – stories you can tell, stories you can share with your students.
7. They are self perpetuating – each challenge creates its own spawns, you don;t have to think, oh what to do next, it’s more like which to do next.
8. A life examined – these challenges also help me look at my life and the things I do with more scrutiny thus gaining a better understanding of my actions and their consequences and finding ways of making it more enjoyable and memorable

So, the first two 30-day challenges are sort of intertwined that’s why I decided to embark on a double challenge to start off with:

Challenges 1 & 2: No evening TV – Learn to Code
It has become a bad habit of mine to switch off by switching on and watching old episodes of TV series on DVD after the evening chaos has settled and the children are in bed and the dishwasher is humming away. While it’s not the most harmful of TV habits, it’s still a bit empty and pointless.

At the same time, the amount of time I spend on-line and not being able to do the smallest thing with a HTML code is really depressing for me. I have tried Codeacademy and I want more. It’s my kind of on-line course, I feel I’m learning and I can progress at my own pace.
So this is the plan for this month. Starting today.
Is it going to happen?
Who knows?
Check back on June 25 and I’ll tell you.

Over to you:
Do you think these 30-day challenges can work? Have you ever tried? How did it go? What have you learnt from it?

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